Friday, 31 July 2009
On 16 July, Zambia joined a growing list of countries seeking to restrict civil society through controversial legislation. Since the beginning of the year, numerous governments have sought to introduce restrictive laws to curb the ability of civil society organisations and NGOs to critically examine their policies and question their record on good governance.Earlier this month, Ethiopia introduced an anti-terrorism law with provisions ambiguous enough to label peaceful blockade of public services or incidental damage to public property during protest demonstrations as terrorist acts.In June, after much protest from civic groups, Azerbaijan's parliament deferred its decision to pass restrictive amendments to a law limiting the ability of NGOs to access much-needed funds from international donors to sustain and support their activities.Nicaragua also has a pending draft manual on international cooperation that seeks to impede rather than promote cooperation through provisions that restrict international civil organisations' involvement in or financing of activities deemed to be of "partisan political nature".In February, a restrictive NGO bill was introduced in the Kyrgyz parliament to prevent civil society organisations from "participating in political activities and processes of the popular vote" with wide implications for election monitoring activities.While in some instances NGOs have been able to build enough pressure to prevent restrictive pieces of legislation from becoming law, it remains a matter of deep concern that these initiatives are being undertaken in the first place.Although absolute dictatorships are gradually giving way to elected governments, use of public resources and government powers to marginalise political opponents remains rife in many parts of the world. With opposition parties effectively silenced or marginalised through coercive means in transitional democracies, NGOs have often had to single-handedly perform the task of exposing official malpractices and hold governments accountable for non-fulfilment of electoral promises. This often leads to accusations in government circles about NGOs meddling in politics and abandoning their non-partisan principles. Government/civil society relations in transitional democracies are further strained by the competition for development aid that many foreign donors seek to channel through NGOs. Often, the result is the introduction of a restrictive NGO bill, as in Zambia's case.Although one of the stated objectives of the Zambian bill is to enhance the transparency, accountability and performance of NGOs, questions regarding the motives behind this push by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) government, which has held power in the country since 1991, are being raised. Key provisions of the bill restrict the independence of NGOs and subject them to excessive and unwarranted controls.Despite existing international best practices that the decision to register should be the prerogative of an individual NGO, the bill requires all NGOs to subject themselves to compulsory registration within 30 days of their formation or adoption of a constitution. No time limit is prescribed for the processing of a registration application, which could keep some NGOs in a prolonged state of uncertainty regarding their legal status. NGOs can be denied registration in the "public interest", a term not defined by the bill. This allows decision-makers to make an assessment of an NGO's merit at their discretion. The bill also ignores the principle of perpetual succession for legal entities, by requiring NGOs to re-register every three years, creating additional bureaucratic hurdles and an opportunity to harass organisations that are critical of official policies.Furthermore, the bill vests the government-dominated NGO registration board with far-reaching powers that could have serious negative implications for the independence of the NGO sector. Three functions of the NGO board are particularly problematic:1) The power to approve the area of work of NGOs, which allows the government to determine their thematic and geographic areas of functioning and exercise control over their affairs;2) The power to provide policy guidelines to harmonise the activities of NGOs with the national development plan, which coopts NGOs into assisting in the fulfilment of the political priorities of the government reflected in the plan;3) The power to advise on strategies for efficient planning and coordination of activities of NGOs, which treats NGOs as government subsidiaries as opposed to independent entities free to formulate and execute their action plans in line with identified priorities.Government domination of NGOs is further reinforced through provisions that empower the office of the registrar to demand information from NGOs about their accounts and office-bearers at will and within an unspecified time frame. Registration of an NGO can be suspended or even cancelled for a minor infraction of the bill's provisions, with no distinction made between first-time and repeat offenders.The bill also imposes forced regulation and peer monitoring on NGOs by forcing them to draw up a code of conduct requiring approval by the government-dominated NGO board, and monitored by a 12-member NGO council. Although members of the council are to be elected by NGOs themselves, its overreaching mandate could have serious repercussions on the autonomy and independence of individual NGOs, who may not subscribe to the majoritarian position adopted by the council. The council is legally obligated to influence the activities of its peers by playing a monitoring and coordinating role over the NGO sector.A number of civil society organisations in Zambia and abroad have made submissions to the government and parliamentary bodies in regard to the bill but have not received substantive assurances that it will be dropped or at least that its more restrictive aspects will be amended. Passage of the bill in its present form will constitute not only a serious setback for good governance and democratic initiatives in Zambia but is also likely to spawn a spate of restrictive legislation in the region, as attested by recent experiences from Latin America and central Asia, where governments have introduced mirror legislation to roll back civil society space.
Thursday, 30 July 2009
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Government has unearthed a scam in which billions of Kwacha were misapplied in the purchase of police escort vehicles. Minister of Home Affairs, Lameck Mangani said in Lusaka yesterday that investigations are already underway in the scam suspected to involve about K8 billion.
He said some tender procedures were allegedly flouted during the purchase of the police vehicles. Mr Mangani said Government is now owing billions of Kwacha in unpaid monies to a South Africa-based motor vehicle supplier. He said there is need to verify details surrounding the vehicle transaction.
Mr Mangani said culprits will be taken to task once found wanting. The transaction involves the purchase of latest BMW motor bikes and saloon cars used for VIP escorts.
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For the most part around the world during the Cold War decades, locals died in local causes fighting other locals, only the outcomes were changed as a result of practically unrelated global superpower agendas. As history has now taught us, these disputants found many nations post-WWII, in colonial and post-colonial Africa alike, to be fertile ground for exploitable conflicts. Combined with the relative indifference of their own populations to the resulting suffering of civilian African populations, where isolated pockets of attention would only be further exploited for propaganda purposes to fuel the home fires of nationalism and maintain astronomical rates of spending on giving substance to the myth of "Mutually Assured Destruction".
It was conceived by planners on both sides as a sort of slow-motion war of attrition, and it is now generally accepted that the Soviets broke under the strain first (I won't go so far as to say that anybody won much of anything, other than respite). Of course the extensive propaganda systems of both countries had to effectively declare victory for their respective countries' somehow, the Russians by adopting a fast-track privatisation policy which effectively transferred power from a political elite to an economic one (often the same individuals) and announcing that the People had Won "Democracy". Meanwhile the Americans declared a "Peace Dividend" and managed for a decade to ignore the fact that if they had really won, then they would have had to keep spending in order to consolidate and ultimately hold their "gains" like any other colonial power. Instead they held a big domestic party that created a lot of domestic jobs and various equity stock bubbles, and the media played up the idea that "now that capitalism won, you can all get rich," but as we have now seen in hindsight they were not well positioned for the actualities they would confront in the 21st century.
I would hope that with two seemingly unclosable military interventions currently raging in the region, the American voter would at last realize that the resistance provoked by invasion is counterproductive, and the fact that the US still has a massive military doesn't mean that it is actually useful to have one. The current circumstances in Iran, despite the desperate propaganda efforts of the ruling party there to shift blame to outsiders, is a fight between the various factions that kicked the outsiders out in the first place. All of the principle players on both sides have long, patriotic Iranian records, are well respected, and not a one of them would require any sort of disclaimer were the clerical theocracy behind them. None of them have been living in exile, none of them have any primary ties to any other nation besides Iran. What they have done is use the blogosphere, which repeatedly demonstrates that it is beyond control of any government (c'mon China, show us what you got!), in spite of what international corporations will do to earn a buck (looking at YOU Nokia-Siemens! You picked the wrong side in this fight. Your competitors have won my business by default. Ask DOW, we haven't forgotten Union Carbide and Bhopal!). Entertainment companies are spending a mint to try and contain bit-torrent direct linkage sites, mainly hosted in scandinavia due to local speech laws, what makes these fools think that they can stop samizdat tweets?
This goes for the oppressive measures too. A samizdat network is based on friendships, trusted individuals who communicate often. Each person may only communicate with two or three others, who in turn have a separate circle of two or three, which promulgates outward. This grew out of Soviet restrictions on how many non-family members could be in the same place at the same time without drawing conspiracy charges and being shipped to a Gulag for political incorrectness. It nevertheless was embraced by millions, and was capable of sharing news across half the globe in remarkably short periods of time, and with uncensorable penetration rates. That the government spies would inevitably report back the content of such messages is irrelevant, the point is that total propaganda systems break down when forced to react or counter external information sources. (They succeed wherever they can maintain virtually sole control over exposure to information on the part of the population to be controlled. This can be quite sophisticated, as with some religious "cult" organizations such as Lord's Resistance Army.)
Governments are faced with a choice, either to accept that the international blogosphere is now a force in setting the subjects and terms of discourse and in effect do their best to capture our loyalty, or to whine about how unfair it is for their country to be included in anyone's definition of "the World" when it would be so much more convenient if they could proceed without anyone looking, or to actively oppose and censor and fight what amounts to an international media machine larger than any single traditional press organ in the world. Twitter works because of hyperlinks. Of course the Iranian revolution is not being organized 140 characters at a time. But 140 is more than enough to trigger pre-arranged sequences, and plenty for high encryption even with intercept. This is why the Iranian government first tried jamming, and why the opposition is patient. Within a few days the government realized that shutting down electronic communication required shutting down trade, and the protesters would win that battle of attrition. They have now shifted to a trace and capture strategy, trying to pinpoint opinions by reviewing ALL electronic messaging, imprisoning and in some cases executing the alleged non-patriots, and hoping that fear will cow the rest (capability thanks to Nokia-Siemens, hoping donor governments who recently suspended health aid are paying non-hypocritical, but perhaps a bit of hippocratical attention).
What is frustrating this enforced propaganda aim is Iranian patience. Every night across the capital (hard to get regular news from anywhere else with the clampdown, but the samizdat messaging is getting through eventually), in small groups on rooftops the simple cry of "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Great") echoes through urban canyons. Each person that disappears from a samizdat network slot is known, cared about, not expendible. They are reported missing, if they are in custody and this is revealed (as is common practice), then charges against them are demanded. People outside the networks see someone they care for hurt simply for communicating, and they talk to those they know and trust about their feelings and frustrations, and instantly the samizdat network has not only healed, but by the nature of the injury it has grown. All that is required is patience and the social nature of humans.
The modern blogosphere was not created for revolution, but sure, it is also very useful for such purposes. This is what happens with invention. Wilbur and Orville Wright offered the patent on the airplane to the US Government and William Howard Taft (the Sec. of Defense, later President) turned them down. They were forced to offer it to Russia and Germany and France instead, which in retrospect considering how they used it was not such a good thing for all concerned (except Siemens! Regretting helping Iranian Intelligence yet?). There is nothing inherently anti-government or anti-establishment about blogs or twitter or any communication technology, but there is something inherently democratic about such forms of communication. Therefore, if you are working for a government, and you perceive that you have a problem with some aspect of these modern communication systems, I would caution against anything but the most targeted, researched, variably phrased and otherwise thoroughly defensible press release you have ever made in your life. Boring is your friend, if you can't simply be friendly. The last thing you want is to get the spotlight as an "anti-blog" authority figure. The math is harder, but it is still democracy, and if you measure the fractal properly, there is nothing monolithic about it.
Convince, don't Censor.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Consider the case of taxation. If the government constantly keeps informing the public that there are individuals cheating on their taxes, people start to believe that cheating on your taxes is an important issue and that a large share of the population is involved. According to the broken windows theory, this induces honest taxpayers to try to cheat on their taxes. This may start a downward spiral of ever-increasing tax evasion. However, in actuality, only about 5 percent of taxpayers are cheaters...If, on the other hand, the government projects the image that most people are honest taxpayers, individuals become aware that they live in a law abiding society. This environment provides them with the motivation to follow the others and to pay their taxes honestly.The possibility of framing the state of the society by the government as a law abiding society depends a lot on the media. Following the early insights of Lippmann that what people know about the world around them is mostly the result of secondhand knowledge provided by the media (in his time, it was newspapers and radio). Thus, people “often respond not to events or social trends but to reported events”. More recently, the views of the public are strongly influenced by what appears during the evening news on television.Experimental evidence also suggests that “people who were shown network broadcasts edited to draw attention to a particular problem assigned greater importance to that problem—greater importance than they themselves did before the experiment began, and greater importance than did people assigned to control conditions that emphasize different problems”…While the news media have considerable influence over what and how they report, public affairs news nevertheless is significantly affected by governmental agencies. Indeed, it has been argued, “in most matters of public policy, the news agenda itself is set by those in power” …While the government cannot simply project an image of a society obviously at odds with what people experience, framing the state of a society as law abiding rather than lawless is likely to systematically affect the behaviour of individuals.
Monday, 27 July 2009
Justice Mumba explains that despite the law allowing the for continuous voter registration being in place since 2001, eight years down the line, the law has still not been implemented mainly due to lack of funds. She says in 2002, the commission submitted a budget of k52 billion of which only k300 million was approved, k962 million in 2003, while no funds were allocated in 2005 and 2006. Justice Mumba adds that in 2007, a budget of 199 billion was submitted to the ministry of finance and national planning and only k84 million was approved, with no allocation being provided in 2008. She says government has only allocated K5billion in this year's budget while the commission requires k48 billion to commence the exercise.
The US plans to loan Angola $400m to build homes for the poor in the next five years. The details are sketchy, but this is the sort of infrastructure aid (debt) approach which is worth undertaking because it's easier to monitor delivery and the benefits are both direct and catalytic.
Sunday, 26 July 2009
“These [mobile] hospitals will not be funded from the budget. If we were going to be getting funds from the budget in order to introduce mobile hospitals, the argument the opposition are raising will have been valid. But this is a programme a foreign government is prepared to fund and it’s their suggestion..."
Saturday, 25 July 2009
"People expect MPs to dish out money. They expect MPs to assist during funerals and sometimes even to top up their own money to complete certain projects…So in my case, I am sure that even if I get that [gratuity] money, most of it will be used in my constituency..”
Friday, 24 July 2009
Mr Kakusa (Kabwe Central) asked the Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives when the Co-operative Bank would be reopened to support farming investments.The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives (Mr Mulonga) : Madam Speaker, the Co-operative Bank will reopen as soon as the Government pays the outstanding K30.1 billion out of the initial K60 billion owed to the Zambia Co-operatives Federation (ZCF). The settlement of the K30.1 billion is awaiting the verification of the figure by the Auditor-General and clearance by the Attorney-General.Dr Scott (Lusaka Central): Madam Speaker, I think virtually all agricultural credit institutions which this country has ever put in place, whether it is land bank, call it organisation of Zambia, Lima Bank and Co-operative Bank, have all gone bankrupt because they have lent money which is not being, essentially, repaid. What medicine, magic and juju does the ministry now have that will make it reopen the Co-operative Bank of this town? A co-operative bank that can flourish.The Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives (Dr Chituwo) : Madam, the role of agricultural credit banks needs to be appreciated. From history, we have learnt very good lessons with regard to instilling discipline in our citizens who get credit. Since our motivation is to empower a small-scale farmer and prioritise agriculture as the vehicle for socio-economic development, we cannot give up, but try to find a remedy for those bottlenecks that have been identified from our history. Our history shows that we do not have a good lending culture. Thank you, Madam Speaker.Mr C. K. B. Banda, SC: Madam Speaker, regarding the fact that this bank closed more than a decade ago, may the hon. Minister tell us whether it will take another ten years to verify Government’s indebtedness to the Zambia Co-operative Federation (ZCF)?Dr Chituwo: Madam Speaker, I am convinced, it will not take a decade to have this bank reopened. As a matter of fact, the Attorney-General is already verifying this credit that we have. If the hon. Member for Chasefu can bring another question in terms of the details, we will be able to provide the answer. Thank you, Madam Speaker.Mr Matongo (Pemba): Madam Speaker, it is always exciting to have a revival of the Co-operative Bank debt. There is K30 billion at stake as of now. Somebody must pay the K30 billion in order to revive this bank. Could the hon. Minister be a little clearer so that we can give him advice on how to handle this money and come up with the management and board for the bank, thereafter? Will the bank be ran strictly under the Financial Services Act? I need clear answers.Dr Chituwo: Madam Speaker, this bank is under liquidation and so what we are doing is paying the liquidator. When that is done, then certainly the normal procedures of reopening a bank will be followed. Thank you, Madam Speaker.Mr Kambwili: Madam Speaker, both the hon. Deputy Minister and of course the hon. Minister in their answers alluded to the fact that they are waiting for the clearance of the Attorney-General. Since when did this Government start taking the Attorney-General’s advice seriously since in a recent case, we were told that his advice is not mandatory?Dr Chituwo: Madam Speaker, I think the hon. Member for Roan is getting a bit confused.Mr Kambwili: No. It is you who is confused.Dr Chituwo: I have provided the answer as requested by the hon. Member for Kabwe Central and there is no ambiguity in it. Therefore, bringing in an unrelated matter is not necessary. As far as we are concerned, we continue to receive expert advice from the Attorney-General’s Office and that is how it will be. Thank you, Madam Speaker.Mr Kambwili: When it suits you. .
Thursday, 23 July 2009
As usual we are chasing access to the detailed electronic version. We'll upload as and when we get them.According to a statement released yesterday in Lusaka by Office of the Auditor General....irregular financial findings in the report of parastatal bodies amount to K264,486,618,109 with transactions which did not follow tender procedures incurring K84,484,225,085. The parastatal bodies audited include Development Bank of Zambia, Indeni Oil Refinery Company, MOFED Tanzania Limited and Patents and Companies Registration Office.The report on Indeni Refinery revealed that instead of paying K91,950,000,000 towards the re-capitalisation of the company, Government paid K97,750,000,000 resulting in an over-payment of K5,800,000,000. As of December 2008, the money had not been refunded to government.During the period November 2006 to January 2007, the government released amounts totaling K97, 750, 000, 000 to Indeni Refinery for the rehabilitation of the plant, but it was observed that K48, 250, 000, 000 was allegedly misapplied on repayment of debt to Total Outre Mer SA.Contrary to procurement procedures, the company procured various goods and services in amounts totaling K84, 262, 186, 109 without following tender procedures. The report states that rehabilitation costs in amounts totaling K79, 818, 077, 918 incurred between 2005 and 2007 were not supported by completion certificates.And contrary to the conditions of service, between March 2006 and December 2007, a total amount of K57, 600, 290 was paid as DSTV subscription for senior members of staff. According to the report, stores items costing K1, 297, 861, 132 procured during 2006 and 2007 had not been supplied as of July, 2008.The report on MOFED Tanzania Limited revealed that during the period from June 2005 to December 2007, no board meetings were held to enable the company pass and review decisions. It was however observed that amounts totaling K47, 592, 055 (US$11, 473) were irregularly incurred as board expenses.In the report of the Patents and Companies Registration Office, it was revealed that during the period July to October 2006, K39,912,000 was misappropriated by a cashier at the Ndola Office. And according to the report, contrary to financial regulation number 45, there were 93 payments in amounts totaling K571, 882, 169 made during the period May 2003 to March 2007 which were inadequately supported in that they lacked receipts, invoices and acquittal sheets. And contrary to financial regulation number 96 (1), imprest in amounts totaling K59, 187, 110 involving 34 transactions issued to 10 officers during the period May 2003 to March 2007, had not been retired as of December 2008.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
The Patriotic Front (PF), United Party for National Development (UPND) and client MMD members of parliament have notified the Speaker of the National Assembly over their intention to impeach President Rupiah Banda from office. In a letter dated July 21, 2009, and addressed to Speaker Amusaa Mwanamwambwa, W.M. Kabimba and Company writing on behalf of the PF, UPND and client MMD members of parliament stated that the parliamentarians want President Banda impeached because of various breaches of the Republican Constitution from the time he acted as president.W.M. Kabimba and Company stated that the motion to Speaker Mwanamwambwa for presentation by the parliamentarians would be forwarded to him within 14 days. “RE: NOTICE OF MOTION FOR IMPEACHMENT OF THE PRESIDENT. We act for the Patriotic Front (PF), United Party for National Development and MMD members of parliament in respect of the above quoted matter. We would like to inform you that we have been instructed to peruse and advise our clients from the three named political parties the various breaches of the articles of the Republican Constitution by the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Rupiah B. Banda for presentation of the motion for impeachment to your office......These breaches cover the period August 2008 when Mr. Banda was acting as president of the Republic of Zambia following the demise of President Levy P. Mwanawasa in Paris, France todate. We shall forward the motion to your office for presentation by our clients within 14 days from the date hereof.”
"I think it's not for the Government to have a position [on the Chief Justice’s contract], it is for the Judiciary to have a position. And as Government we look to the Judiciary for them to give a position for the rest of the nation. And as government we are on firm ground because we know the division of work: Government, Judiciary, Legislature, [that's] how we work. So that is important and this is why we are on firm ground,"
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Mr Mweemba (Magoye) asked the Minister of Local Government and Housing:
- (a) How many council buildings were being rented by Government ministries in the following towns: (i) Livingstone; (ii) Lusaka; (iii) Ndola; and (iv) Kitwe; and
- (b) How much money, in rentals, was owed by the Government to the councils in the towns at (a) above from 2005 to-date.Dr Puma : Madam Speaker, I wish to inform this August House that according to the information we have, there are no properties rented by government ministries in Livingstone, Kitwe and Ndola towns. However, there are thirteen properties rented by government ministries in Lusaka. To-date, Lusaka City Council is owed about K2.5 billion in rentals by various ministries. The ministry has directed Lusaka City Council to write to the Lusaka Province Permanent Secretary indicating the debt incurred by government ministries with the view of asking the Ministry of Finance and National Planning to settle it.Mr Mweemba : Madam Speaker, experience is the best teacher. I worked in the Lusaka City Council for twenty-seven years in-charge of collecting rates. I would like to find out from the hon. Minister regarding the building along Church Road which the Ministry of Local Government and Housing is renting, the Government has made an extension to it without the authority of the Lusaka City Council, meaning that the rental …Mr Tetamashimba: Madam Speaker, I want to agree that my ministry rents its offices from the Lusaka City Council. I also want to agree that we made extensions, especially to the offices that accommodate the Minister and Permanent Secretary. I also want to inform the hon. Member of Parliament that there is no building in the country that can be built without getting permission from the council which also gets approval from the hon. Minister. I can, therefore, assure you that even if the extensions have been put up by us, the procedure was followed. In terms of rentals, you may wish to know that my ministry has been very kind to the Lusaka City Council in terms of grants. For instance, last year, I think we gave them over a billion kwacha in terms of grants. Therefore, if you can get more than a billion kwacha of grant funds from your mother, how can you charge your mother K200,000?Mrs Sinyangwe(Matero): Madam Speaker, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister of Local Government and Housing when he is settling the rental arrears because that was an agreement which has nothing to do with the grants?Mr Tetamashimba: I can assure you that both the current and previous administrations have been settling the rental arrears that we have incurring by being in that building. However, one thing that I would want to assure the hon. Member of Parliament is that the hon. Minister of Local Government and Housing will be the last person to fail to pay what belongs to Lusaka City Council through rentals.Mr Ntundu: Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister stated that the K1 billion which they gave to the Lusaka City Council was a grant, I would like him to confirm to this House that, actually, that K1 billion was not a grant, but a debt swap.Mr Tetamashimba: Madam Speaker, it was not a debt swap, but a grant. What is owed to the council will still be paid by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing.Dr Scott (Lusaka Central): Madam Speaker, rentals are rentals, but there are also rates and there are also grants in lieu of rates. Last time we were looking at a lot more in the total amount of money owed by the Government to Lusaka City Council than the K2.5 billion. Could the hon. Minister give us the full story for the benefit of the nation and the House?Mr Tetamashimba: I am surprised that the councillor for Lusaka City Council who is just a stone throw from our office has never had time to come and find out about the rates and other payments that are due to the council. Madam Speaker, it is just fair that we give to the councils what we owe them. We give grants in lieu to councils without considering what we are owed as a ministry. Madam Speaker, I can assure you that even when you look at the budget, you will find a provision for the payment of rentals. However, people must also be aware that the ministry has had problems in terms of finances. This is as a result of the Government deciding to spend more on other priority areas. Are the priorities to pay rentals instead of us buying medicines for the Zambian people? The answer is no. I think that since the payment of rentals is in the budget and money being available, the time will come when we will settle them.
Mutharika, a western-educated economist, is planning to build a university in his home area. Former President Bakili Muluzi – who earlier this year saw his bid to stand for a third presidential term blocked by a court – also plans to build a university, maintaining a tradition in which Malawian presidents have committed themselves to building private educational institutions. The country’s first president – Muluzi’s predecessor Hastings Kamuzu Banda – built a high quality institution, the Kamuzu Academy, nick-named ‘Eton in the Bush’.
Monday, 20 July 2009
"What tribute can Zambia pay to Mswati for exemplary leadership? What exemplary leadership has Mswati displayed? What social and economic developments have been taking place in Swaziland that Zambia has followed with keen interest? What traditional and democratic governance has Mswati successfully blended through wise leadership? And what elections can Mswati be praised for in Swaziland?Whilst Rupiah has a right to invite Mswati for a visit, we wish to express our strong displeasure at the presence of the King in our country. We say this because Mswati is running a tyrannical royal dictatorship in Swaziland. And by highlighting this matter, we wish to strongly signal that it is time now for SADC to put serious pressure on Mswati for the democratisation of Swaziland.The Tinkhundla system based on the banning of political parties and the suppression of freedom of association and political activity that Swaziland has, is one of the most oppressive systems in the contemporary period.Whilst the Swazi King was entertained to a state banquet here and enjoyed game viewing in one of our national parks in the company of Rupiah, he has subjected the people of Swaziland to hunger and poverty whilst he and his family enjoy a lavish lifestyle.Millions of rand are being wasted in Swaziland to finance the Mswati dynasty; which includes throwing expensive birthday parties, procurement of luxury motor vehicles and financing personal shopping sprees; whilst the majority of the people do not have access to basic services and the HIV/AIDS pandemic is ravaging the country. For far too long, SADC and the African Union (AU) have turned a blind eye to the brutalities meted out to the Swazi people by Mswati.Why should Swaziland still belong to some 17th Century archive or political museum, as a source of tourist attractions and academic interests for European anthropologists keen on studying how 17th Century Africa looked, a classical example of backwardness and primitive social relations of the worst order, with no regard for human dignity, of women in particular?Should it not be of interest to all of us that in our region we have a country that has evaded the powerful media screens, the academic freedom train of political scientists and all the world's watchdogs who should have been ashamed of their witting or unwitting silence and failure to uncover more than 35 years of legalised political fraud in the name of Swazi culture and tradition?But why should a fast-evolving world of information super highways on a global scale afford to tolerate the longest state of emergency in the region, and most probably on the continent as a whole? These are the questions we should pose to our government, multilateral institutions of governance in our region and continent, as well as beyond. But even more uncomfortably, we must also pose them to ourselves. Should we be pardoned, for we did not know, or we did not see or we just chose silence, for it is golden sometimes and more convenient than the sacrifice that comes with challenging things?"
Sunday, 19 July 2009
Chief government spokesperson Ronnie Shikapwasha accused the visiting Americans of spreading false news designed to cause panic in the country. “The group is contradicting the bible that teaches that no one knows when the world will come to an end,” Shikapwasha, who is also the Information Minister, told reporters in Lusaka.The Minister said Zambia as a Christian nation had no room for such “falsehood” and the people responsible should be arrested and deported to their native country, stressing that government has a duty to protect its nationals from receiving falsehood such as the one being spread by the visiting Americans.